Up-And-Coming Trainer Saffie Joseph Finding ‘Room To Get Better’

by | 08.26.2019 | 2:07pm
Saffie Joseph, Jr.

His mother, Kathleen, by his side, Saffie Joseph Jr. was filled with emotion as they watched Chance It power to a 9 ½-length maiden victory without extending himself June 29 at Gulfstream Park.

“It brought tears to my eyes,” said Joseph, a 32-year-old Barbados native. “My mom was right next to me. She rarely comes to the races. At the quarter-pole, I said to her, 'He's everything I've dreamed about and prayed for.'”

Eight years after arriving in South Florida with two horses, Joseph could see through his tears of joy that Chance It was a horse that possessed wow factor, a horse with the potential to help propel his career to a new level. The son of Currency Swap would go on to capture the $100,000 Dr. Fager Division of the FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes Aug. 3 and will be heavily favored to win Saturday's $200,000 Affirmed Division of the annual series for 2-year-olds sired by accredited stallions standing in Florida.

Joseph had established himself as an up-and-coming trainer during Gulfstream's 2018-2019 Championship Meet when he ranked fourth with 27 winners. Chance It's early success during the Summer Meet can only help attract new interest from owners in search of a trainer with the knack for developing young horses, as well as getting the best out of older horses.

The son of a trainer in his homeland of Barbados, Joseph had always wanted to follow in his father's footsteps, but his parents preferred that he pursue academics. Joseph left Barbados to attend Gulliver Preparatory School in Pinecrest, FL for two years before spending one semester at Florida International University in Miami.

“My parents wanted me to go to college. I tried it, but college wasn't for me,” Joseph said. “I think I spent more time at Gulfstream and Calder than college – when I was in high school, too.”

Joseph returned to Barbados to pursue a career as a trainer and enjoyed unprecedented success in 2009 when, at 22 years of age, he became the youngest trainer of a Barbados Triple Crown champion with Areutalkintome.

However, he wasn't content to be on top in Barbados.

“My goal is to try to be the best in the world, and I can't do that in Barbados,” said Joseph, who resides in Hollywood with his wife, Morgan, and their 5-year-old daughter, Sienna, and their 3-year-old son, Rocco. “In Barbados, it's more of a hobby.”

Joseph arrived in South Florida with Go Zapper, a son of Ghostzapper who had run once without success in Barbados, and Artefacto, an unraced son of Officer. Go Zapper was his first starter in the U.S. at Tampa Bay Downs April 10, 2011. He finished seventh. Artefacto debuted with a victory at Calder Race Course June 19, 2011 to give him his first winner in the U.S.

“The first years, it was a grind to pick up new owners. Most of the horses we owned ourselves. It was hard to get attention. It was hard to tell someone, 'Give me a horse,' when there were so many good trainers out there,” Joseph said. “It's gradually happened. The last two years, we have a lot of good owners who want us to succeed. When you're around people who want you to succeed, it's hard not to succeed. They're already successful.”

In addition to being entrusted with Chance It by Shooting Star Thoroughbreds, Joseph has attracted the interest of highly respected bloodstock agent/owner Mike Ryan, as well as Bob Edwards of e Five Racing Thoroughbreds, for whom he saddled Sound Machine, a 2-year-old Into Mischief filly purchased for $500,000 as a yearling, to a dazzling 8 ¼-length debut victory July 28.

”I've never had a horse that expensive,” Joseph said. “You're always thankful for the opportunity, but there's pressure because e Five can help take us to the next level.”

Before Chance It and Sound Machine had made their respective debuts, they breezed together with the former unexpectedly out-working the latter.

“I didn't know what to do that day. I said, 'Geez, here's a horse with no pedigree that just outworked a horse that's the best in the barn. It was disappointing, but seeing Chance It win made me feel better,” Joseph said. “Then, her last work before her race, it was her first work that she looked like her purchase price. She was phenomenal. I sent Bob a text, 'If she runs back to this work, we're good to go.'”

Joseph, who won Gulfstream's Sprint Meet title and is currently second in the Summer Meet standings, has immersed himself in his career to order to reach his goals.

“I spend the whole day thinking about horses, how they can get better or how I can improve them,” he said. “I think there's so much room to get better. I think if you rate us from 1-10, I'd say we're four and a half right now. I think there's a lot of room to get better.”

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